This party was sponsored by Minted & DiBruno Brothers. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Last weekend I hosted a beer & cheese party. I’ve been talking about this party for over a year, but finally got the chance to make it happen – autumn beer style. What does that mean? Pumpkin ales, ciders, and Oktoberfest beers all around!
Originally the plan was to rate the best autumn beer, but I quickly realized that there was no way to rate a pumpkin ale vs. a cider vs. an Oktoberfest beer. We did, however, rank the cheeses by the end of the night. Hang on, I’m getting ahead of myself.
A month before the party I showed up at DiBruno Brothers to ask a nice man named Joe what kind of cheeses I should buy for an autumn beer party with the caveat that whatever we chose still needed to be available in a month for purchase. We ended up deciding that the best cheeses for a beer party would be the hard cheeses because they would best compliment the flavors in the beer. We decided on 5 cheeses:
- Le Cret 1655 Gruyere: Wholesome flavors of toasted seeds and natural linen. Dense and serious with a matte finish. The good-natured mountain king. (Switzerland, Cow)
- L’Amuse Gouda: Sweet caramel layered within toasted nuttiness. Firm-but-creamy paste spotted with casein crunch. (Holland, Cow)
- Brabander Goat Gouda: This spectacular cave-aged gouda has flavors of butter and caramel and will lull your taste buds into a lifelong love affair. (Holland, Goat)
- 1605 Manchego: A full-flavored and sweet manchego. A rustic natural rind protects this farmstead. (Spain, Sheep)
- L’Etivaz: This raw milk cheese has notes of hazelnut and tropical fruit. It is made in traditional copper kettles and aged on pine shelves. (Switzerland, Cow)
Why did I go a month ahead of time? I decided to fancy things up a little bit for this party and print a cheese menu for all of the guests ahead of time from Minted. This way when we started eating them we knew exactly what we were getting into. I designed the menus below using the Quite Simply design. (Oh, and they made great party favors too!)
The week of the party I went to buy all the cheeses (and got one of the last pieces of the L’Etivaz) as well as additional snacks and decorations. I decided to set up one table full of food and decorations for people to gather around. And the results turned out pretty well if I do say so myself –
How to set up a beer & cheese spread
Setting up a beer and cheese spread is a lot like setting up a wine and cheese spread (see: how to host a wine and cheese party for 4 under $80, how to host a wine and cheese party). There are two objectives. (1) Find a good balance of sweet and savory. (2) Have enough food to absorb the alcohol. The discussion below relates to a party for 10 people.
- Crackers/Chips/Mini Toasts
- Prezels – I also got a tub of cheese whiz and cinnamon dip (which was DELICIOUS with the apples).
- Maple Cookies from Trader Joe’s
- Honey (Almond & Orange Blossom)
- Quince Paste
Our favorite cheeses
As I mentioned before – although we didn’t vote on favorite beers, we did end up voting on our favorite cheeses. Also, let me tell you, it was super useful to have the cheese menus nearby while eating. We must have referenced each description a dozen times – it helped us remember what they liked and didn’t like. Here are the two cheeses you must try:
Brabander Goat Gouda
Le Cret 1655 Gruyere
They are both absolutely delicious. The cheese that created the most discussion was the L’Etivaz, but turned out to be too farmy for our group.
Everybody brought 3 bottles of an autumn beer with them. Everybody got a cup when they arrived and we opened one type of beer at a type and tried them all. I decided it was better to have three different types of autumn beers as opposed to one type of autumn beer so that nobody got too sick of any one of them. (Think about it, any more than one or two pumpkin beers would have been far too many.)
What I would do differently next time
I would tell everybody to bring 3 bottles of beer with them – I would not, however, tell people to bring extra beer for drinking. I think 26 is around the age that people are no longer looking to ruin their entire weekend over a party Friday night. There was no need for extra beer and now my fridge is full of beer that I probably won’t end up drinking.
I would not have bought any crackers, mini toasts, or chips. It’s not worth buying crackers without soft cheese options, a hard cracker with hard cheese is too much hard.
Philly Pretzel Factory has a deal called “The Crowd Pleaser” where you get 25 pretzels and a bottle of mustard for $13. However, you only need one pretzel per person if there’s also bread.
I got the cashews and pepperoni to break up the monotony of eating carbohydrates and cheese, but neither one was really touched. I don’t think I’d waste the money on it again.
Overall, the party cost me around $140, but done correctly, I think it could be done for about $90 for 10 people (so long as you’re not the one buying the beer). I would buy .15-.20 pounds of cheese per person, 1 baguette, 10 pretzels, 1 box of cookies, 2 bars of chocolate, and 2 apples + accoutrements. Alright, now it’s your turn. Aren’t you glad I did the dirty work for you?
WITCH numbers: C55, W2